Is Your Sunscreen Healthy?
by EWGA whopping 80% of sun protection products analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) contain harmful ingredients or offer inadequate protection against dangerous ultraviolet radiation – or both, according to a new shopping guide released today by EWG.
EWG scrutinized 1,700 products, including sunscreens, SPF-rated moisturizers and lip balms, to compile this year’s 2015 Guide to Sunscreens. (See www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/)
The easy-to-use interactive tool highlights the best and worst products and offers a host of tips to help shoppers find better options.
“Our research confirms that not all sunscreens are created equal,” said Dave Andrews, senior scientist at EWG.
“Many products do not provide enough UVA protection. Some contain hazardous chemicals such as the hormone disruptor oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A linked to skin damage. Shoppers who use our guide can find sunscreens that are not only more effective but safer for themselves and their family.”
More than 30 products landed in EWG’s 2015 Sunscreen Hall of Shame (www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/hall-of-shame/) because of potentially toxic ingredients, inhalation risks from sprays and excessive SPF claims.
Neutrogena products raised an unusual number of flags in EWG’s review because of the brand’s egregious marketing. It markets itself as the “#1 dermatologist recommended suncare brand.” Yet EWG has given most of the Neutrogena’s products it analyzed a failing grade.
“It is really quite astonishing how Neutrogena attempts to deceive shoppers with ad hype in order to sell potentially harmful products,” said Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst.
“We’ve turned a spotlight on bad actors like Neutrogena, but so much more needs to be done to stop companies from getting away with hyping their products at the expense of consumer health.”
According to the analysis, Neutrogena sells questionable “wet skin” aerosol sprays and products with SPF values as high as 110. That’s more than double the maximum recommended value by the US Food and Drug Administration, which calls SPF values greater than 50+ “inherently misleading.” Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia do not allow ultra-high SPFs.
“Many studies have shown that people are misled by label claims about sun protection and that, as a result, those who use higher SPF sunscreens are more likely to stay out in the sun longer and more likely to burn,” Lunder added.
EWG found that Neutrogena’s allegedly hypoallergenic “pure & free baby” sunscreen lotion actually contains a potent skin allergen.
Current law is so weak that manufacturers can add nearly any inactive ingredient to their products, even chemicals that, according to scientific studies, alter body hormones, cause skin damage or trigger allergic reactions.
Only 21% of the 1,000 sunscreens analyzed for EWG’s guide scored high marks. The full list can be found at www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/ Roughly 19% of moisturizers and 21% of lip balms scored well. EWG estimates that half of the products in this year’s guide could not be sold in Europe because of the European Commission’s stricter rules on SPF values and UVA protection.
Other products in EWG’s Hall of Shame include Banana Boat, Coppertone and CVS.
Finding the right sunscreen is only half the battle. Limiting your sun exposure and wearing protective clothing are more important for preventing skin cancer and premature aging, the analysis says.
“Tragically, melanoma kills thousands of us each year,” said renowned pediatrician Harvey Karp.
“And, young children are especially vulnerable to sun damage. Sunscreens are one option to prevent this deadly cancer threat. That’s why I’m grateful to EWG for protecting American lives by demanding better regulations and safer sunscreens.”
EWG’s 2015 guide includes important information on how to read product labels, identify potential hazards and avoid getting burned. Shoppers on the go can download EWG’s Skin Deep mobile barcode scanning app to get ratings and safety information on sunscreens and other cosmetics products right at their fingertips.
Source: The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org). EWG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. EWG’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research and education, the organization drives consumer choice and civic action.